How to Become a Telecommunications Engineer

How to Become a Telecommunications Engineer: Career Path Guide

Becoming a telecommunications engineer can be an excellent career choice for you if you have a genuine interest in the field, paired with knowledge of electronics, communication systems and mechanics.


If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what these engineers do, how much they can earn, and what you’ll need to qualify!



Education Needed to Become a Telecommunications Engineer

To become a telecommunications engineer, you will need familiarity with the founding principles of the telecommunications design field, and knowledge of the major software used to build and maintain these communications systems.


Because of this required knowledge base, employers typically look for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in related field of engineering or physical science, including:


• Computer science

• Database engineering

• Electronic and communication engineering

• Electronic engineering

• Information technology

• Mathematics

• Physics

• Telecommunications


Success Tip: It is not considered essential to have a postgraduate qualification to become a telecommunications engineer, however it may be useful and could help with future career development. 




Telecommunications Engineer Job Description

Telecommunications engineers (also known as “communications engineers”) are responsible for applying technical knowledge of telecommunications engineering to the design and implementation of communications systems and equipment of various sorts.


They may however, be responsible for focusing on managerial activities related to the design and implementation of communications technology systems and equipment. For example, they must ensure that projects are delivered on time, within budget and to agreed standards of quality.


Please Note: Some telecommunications engineer jobs may include elements of both managerial and technical responsibilities.



Telecommunications Engineer Job Duties

The job duties of a telecommunications engineer may vary from one role to the next, although in general, you would be responsible for performing the following types of duties:


 Technical Duties


• Carrying out site surveys

• Providing technical guidance to colleagues and customers

• Finding creative solutions to problems identified during network designs

• Maintaining current sector knowledge by attending conferences and seminars

• Analyzing and interpreting data

• Liaising with other communications engineers, technologists, designers and managers

• Traveling to meet suppliers, customers and colleagues, and to perform site inspections

• Testing theoretical designs


Managerial Duties


• Attending meetings to determine the best way to move projects forward

 • Participating in meetings to discuss products, action plans and team performance

• Attending briefings on new networks and new products

• Managing resources, such as budgets, physical resources and staff

• Preparing written reports and presentations for management and customer review



Licensure and Certification Needed

Licensing requirements for working as a telecommunications engineer can vary by region and by employer. While licensure for telecommunications engineers isn’t as common as it is in other areas of engineer (civil engineering being a great example) some employers may require that you have the Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation.


Even if it is not a requirement to become licensed, it is highly recommended, especially if you work for a company that earns a lot contracts with federal, provincial/state, and local government agencies. Being licensed can also mean more responsibility and higher pay.


Becoming Licensed in Canada


• Licensure as a Professional Engineer in Canada generally requires the following:

• A four-year bachelor's degree in a recognized engineering program

• At least four years (typically) of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a Professional Engineer

• A minimum of three acceptable references

• Successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism


Becoming Licensed in the United States


To be licensed in the United States as a PE, you generally need to meet the following requirements:


• A degree from an accredited engineering program

• A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

• Relevant work experience

• A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam



Skills Needed to Become a Telecommunications Engineer

In order to be an effective telecommunications engineer, you need a certain set of, ‘soft’ skills, and field-specific hard skills.


Soft Skills


• Excellent mathematical and computer skills

• The ability to manage projects, budgets and people

• The ability to visualize complex processes

• The ability to be very precise in work and calculations

• Creativity and persistence in work activities

• Excellent spoken and written communication skills


Hard Skills


• Familiarity with the founding principles of the telecommunications design field

• Knowledge of the major software used to build and maintain telecommunications systems

• Knowledge of electronics, communication systems and mechanics

• Up-to-date knowledge of engineering methods, technology and industry trends

• An understanding of telecommunication rules and standards

• Design skills, and skill in interpreting drawings and designs





Who Creates Jobs for Telecommunications Engineers?

The main employers of telecommunications engineers are the leading telecommunications companies. Other employers may include:


• Large government departments (all levels of government)

• Organizations that hire Nuclear Engineers include:

• Colleges and universities

• Engineering and telecommunications consulting firms

• Telecommunications and related equipment manufacturers

• Installers of communication devices/systems

• Technical service companies

• Self-employment as a consultant (with experience and a strong network of contacts)


Please Note: Due to society’s ever-increasing demand for communications technology, the need for telecommunications engineers is expected to remain quite strong!



Telecommunications Engineer Salary

The salary level you could earn as a telecommunications engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience

• The specific responsibilities of your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Many other factors


Telecommunications Engineer Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Electrical Engineers occupational group earn an average wage of between $35.72 and $61.05 per hour, with an overall average salary of $96,142 per year.


Telecommunications Engineer Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group is $86,600 per year.


Telecommunications Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group is $89,630 per year.



Working Conditions for Telecommunications Engineers

Hours of Work: Telecommunications engineers typically work regular business hours, but due to the need to meet deadlines they often have to work evenings and weekends. They may be on call, depending on the company they work for. Flexible working hours may be an option (such as working at different times of the day throughout the week).


Work Setting: Work in this field primarily takes place in an office and/or laboratory setting. On occasion it also involves working outside, such as when supervising the installation of equipment, or performing tests at a job site. A certain amount of domestic travel is likely, for meetings or site visits, for example.



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Career Advancement for Telecommunications Engineers

As a telecommunication engineer first entering the field, you will likely start as a communications designer or officer. Once you have accumulated some experience, and proved your competence and work ethic, you can move into roles of greater responsibility and pay, such as Project Engineer, or Team Leader.


After further proving your abilities in these roles, you may advance even further, into roles such as Head Engineer, or other management roles. You may also choose to apply the knowledge you’ve gained into different kinds of roles, such as Sales Engineer.



Careers Similar to Telecommunications Engineer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Telecommunications Engineer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities.


Aerospace Engineer

Chief Information Officer


Electrical Engineer

Electronics Engineer

Hardware Engineer

IT Analyst



References for this Career Guide

To find out more about what a telecommunications engineer does, what prerequisites you’ll need to qualify, how much you could earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Occupations in Alberta:Electrical Engineer.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Architecture & Engineering:Electrical and Electronics Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Jobs Database:Telecommunications Engineer.” (February 16, 2019). Careers New Zealand website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Careers:How to become a telecommunications engineer.” Phillip Tracy (July 20, 2016) RCR Wireless News website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Telecommunications Engineer

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Telecommunications Engineer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Telecommunications Engineer: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming a Telecommunications Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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